“After Dark, Hyattsville” by Liz Manicatide
Be prepared to be enchanted: heading north into downtown Hyattsville on Baltimore Avenue, a new sight will greet motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Welcome “After Dark, Hyattsville” by Liz Manicatide: a work full of bright color, fanciful characters and fantastic, dream-like imagery. The newly installed mural is the first of its kind anywhere: a permanent outdoor installation employing color-changing light that shifts the appearance of the colors and surfaces of the mural. Residents and officials eagerly await the installation of the LED lighting system, anticipated this week, as early as April 10th or 11th.
Mike Franklin, the owner and founder of the restaurant/brewery/general store, known as a pioneering entrepreneurial force in the Gateway Arts District, wanted to raise the bar for public art and Route 1 in general. He can be overheard proudly declaring: “Anything worth doing is worth over-doing.” “After Dark, Hyattsville” is painted with top-quality artist’s pigments on marine-grade plywood with a UV-resistant coating, and illuminated with a row of super-bright Color Kinetics lights running several different custom light show programs.
The mural was created by Boston artist Liz Manicatide, who specializes in kinetic art: it spans 40 feet in width and 12 to 14 feet in height along the south side of the general store. New neon “Franklin’s” signage, windows, and paint also graces the brewpub’s façade thanks in part to a City of Hyattsville administered Community Development Block Grant. The placemaking mural will light up the night for north-bound travelers along Route 1. “We think it will make quite a splash, and a lasting impression for this stretch of the corridor,” observed Stuart Eisenberg, Executive Director of the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation (CDC). The Hyattsville CDC is also administering a Street Art Initiative along the Route 1 Corridor incorporating the entire Gateway Arts District and Riverdale Park. “We can only hope that other property owners in the area strive to match Mike’s impressive contribution to the street and building-scape and to the Arts in Hyattsville and the Gateway Arts District.”
About the Artist Liz Manicatide:
Thanks to living abroad at an impressionable age, Liz Manicatide grew up with a sense that there are many different ways of being and a big, fascinating and colorful world out there. Her imaginary worlds and creatures, and perverse desire to decorate everything, started coming out early in life.
She studied architecture at Yale, with a thesis in architectural ornament, and loved the influences of Art Nouveau, Bosch, and contemporary science fiction art. After more travel, she began a career as a graphic designer and designer for online media, running her own studio since 2001, and painting all the while.
Liz has been working with large wall-sized murals designed to be viewed under color-changing light since 2005, when early access to bright, programmable LED lighting through the Boston Burning Man artists’ community first made such experiments possible. These murals have appeared mostly at the Burning Man art festival in the Nevada desert, and at private and local arts events, until now.
These works are characterized by a wealth of saturated color, whimsical characters and fantastic, dreamlike imagery informed by iconic elements from our collective visual culture.
In these paintings, Liz Manicatide enjoys creating a fantastical realm where all the colors and flavors of the imagination are possible, where creatures and forces from dream reality and our inner imaginary worlds have their time to play– a window into the soul where every detail, character and evocative shape contributes to the harmony of the vision.
Like dreams, these scenes give us permission to escape the routine of daily life and indulge in flights of fancy to delightful, weird and fun places — where forces of the unconscious and whimsical impulses become embodied and we have a chance to play in fantastical landscapes with odd and humorous creatures.
Art need not be elitist or obscure- It can call forth a sense of whimsy and play, and delight the eye with color– pleasures which are accessible to all and the enjoyment of which unites humanity. Public Art makes the world a happier place.
About Art for Color-Changing Light:
When your eye sees a color, like red, it’s because the colored surface is only (or mostly) reflecting the red wavelength back into your eye. When we illuminate the red surface with saturated red light only, what comes back to your eyes is very concentrated red. When that red light shines on blue-green paint, it’s absorbed, not reflected, and very little comes back to you: it appears black or grey. Switching the colored light to blue-green will flip the effect, and you’ll see the blue-green paint as very bright, and the red will go away and appear black.
This can make for some fun swapping effects. With proper tuning of the light values to the pigment combinations in the paint, and playing off the arrangement of the colored areas with the sequence of colors in the light show, the mural surface can seem to swap, flip and move.
About the Mural “After Dark, Hyattsville”:
“After Dark, Hyattsville” by Liz Manicatide is the first permanent outdoor installation of a mural for color-changing light. It’s painted with top-quality artist’s pigments on marine-grade plywood with a UV-resistant coating, and illuminated with a row of super-bright Color Kinetics lights running several different custom light show programs.
The mural was designed specifically for this site, to complement and enliven the neighborhood, with its growing arts scene and distinctive local businesses, providing a fun attraction for the block and making it even more of a destination just 8 miles from downtown Washington, DC. It was commissioned in 2012 by local business owner Mike Franklin (of Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery & General Store, the building where it’s installed), with assistance from a community development grant.
About Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery & General Store:
Since opening in 2002, Franklin’s quirky gift shop has been known throughout the region for its great selection of wine, beer, toys, games, gifts, jewelry, cards, candy, stocking stuffers, and more. The retail space doubled in 2002 with the expansion of the brewpub, and will expand even more, later this year.
Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery & General Store is located at 5121 Baltimore Ave, Hyattsville, MD.